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10 Common breastfeeding problems 

Breastfeeding is so easy, you just pop your baby’s head next to your breast they latch on and its job done!

Well, that’s what it looks like when you see it in all the movies anyway but it is completely not true.  The truth is that a lot of new moms struggle with common breastfeeding problems all the time.

Breastfeeding does not come naturally to everyone and some of us have to work extra hard for it.  If you are one of those people where breastfeeding comes naturally I’m not hating (well…maybe just a little)

Haha seriously though, a lot of us struggle with different aspects of breastfeeding and its not just the problems that you get in those first few days either, there are things that can pop up along the way that you may never even have heard of.

Today I want us to take a look at a few of those common breastfeeding problems because it’s always better to be prepared even if it never happens to you.


10 Common breastfeeding problems

1. Mastitis

If you have never experienced mastitis before then you are in for a surprise at it often masks itself as the flu.

You may find that one day you wake up and feel a little achy all over your body, it may even be accompanied by a sniveling noise.  You’d be forgiven for thinking that the flu was trying to get you.

It’s pretty quick to rule out if it is really the flu or not by doing a quick breast exam.

Take some time to feel around your breast, if you find any tender areas with a lump the likelihood is that it will be mastitis.


SOLUTION: Lots and lots of rest.  Get your baby to keep feeding on the breast with mastitis even if it is painful.  The first few sucks will feel the worst then the pain should die down.

A warm towel or a hot shower can also help ease the pain.

Mastitis in the breast


2. Inverted nipples

You may not have even noticed having inverted nipples before.  I know I certainly didn’t.

The problem with having inverted nipples is that it can make latching on for your baby very difficult to do.

Did you know that it’s entirely possible to have just one flat or inverted nipple?

Thankfully it’s not an end of the world situation as there are a few things that you can do about it.

Just because you have an inverted nipple does not mean that your baby will not be able to feed from it.  I had 1 inverted nipple and it never stopped me from feeding all of the 4 children with it.  It was never my children’s favorite breast but they would always take it.


SOLUTION: Try using a nipple shield to help keep the nipple out, Yes the nipple can come out.

Using a breast pump can also help in getting your nipple to come out.


3. Engorgement

Engorgement happens when you have too much milk coming in and your baby is not drinking it all.  I guess you could say its an oversupply of milk.

When this happens you may notice that your breasts are very full and feel hard to the touch.

You might be tempted to pump out the extra milk but you shouldn’t because your body will think that your baby is feeding from it and keep producing that same supply of milk each time.


SOLUTION: Let your baby nurse for as long as they want, after a few days your body should start to understand how much milk your baby actually needs and will eventually adjust itself accordingly.


4. Unable to express milk

You might be planning on returning to work in a few months and therefore need to build up a milk stash. Perhaps you want to share baby feeding duties with your partner but so far you have been unable to express any milk.

Believe it or not, this is a common breatfeeding problem. There is quite a big difference in your baby latching on and being able to feed and you trying to express milk using a breast pump.  

Sometimes the emotional connection is just not there so you have to work a little harder.


SOLUTION: Try looking at your baby or a picture of your baby whilst pumping.  If that doesn’t work then perhaps expressing by hand might work better for you.


5. Cracked nipples

Having cracked nipples is no fun at all. It can be incredibly painful especially if you are determined that you want to breastfeed.

Cracked nipples can happen for a variety of different reasons but the main cause of it is likely to be incorrect latching.


SOLUTION: Consult a breastfeeding expert as soon as possible to make sure you are positioning your baby in the correct way before a feed.  A breastfeeding course like this one can be incredibly helpful in such cases.

Make sure you are keeping your breasts nicely moisturized so that they remain soft and supple.  That might mean not using soap for a little while as this can cause dryness.

You can also use a breastfeeding cream like this one between each feed.  Adding a little breastmilk around your nipple can also help.


6. Low milk supply

No breastfeeding mom wants to hear that they are having low milk supply problems.  Before you decide to call it low milk supply make sure that it is not the case that your breast milk has simply adjusted to your baby’s nursing needs.

Breastfeeding is very much supply and demand so once your body gets used to how much milk your baby needs your breast will not feel as full as they used too.  You may not even feel a let-down reflex anymore.  This is perfectly normal.


SOLUTION: Check if your baby is continuing to gain weight.  As long as your baby is not losing weight then the chances are that everything is ok.

If you have confirmed that it is indeed a case of low milk supply then you can try expressing milk to help give your breasts a boost or try skin to skin contact with your baby whilst allowing them extra feeds.


7. Baby sleeping at the breast

In the first few months of life, your baby will spend huge amounts of time sleeping.  This is perfectly normal as they have been through quite an ordeal and need time to rest (so do you probably).

The problem with your baby sleeping so much is that it can make it quite difficult for your baby to get a full feed.  When this happens your baby will wake up much more often because they are hungry which means less rest for you too.


SOLUTION: Always start by feeding your baby on the fullest breast first so they can get a full feed.  If you need to, switch breasts before they fall asleep so they get a full feed before eventually falling asleep.


Related post: Sleeping schedule for a new baby


8. Thrush

Your baby can develop thrush inside their mouths which is caused by a yeast infection. When this happens the infection can very easily be spread to your breasts too.

You will be able to quickly notice this as your breasts will feel very itchy and may be a little red too.


SOLUTION: See your doctor immediately.  Both you and your baby will need to be treated simultaneously to stop the spreading of the infection.  If you don’t do this you will simply pass the infection back and forth between the two of you making it last much longer than is necessary.


9. Baby not latching on properly

The latching and positioning of your baby is a huge factor in successful breastfeeding.  If your baby does not latch propery it can cause a number of breastfeeding problems for you.

When your baby latches on for the first time at a feed it’s normal to feel slight pain but if this lasts more than a few seconds then the likelihood is that they are incorrectly latched.


SOLUTION: Take your baby off the breast and try to reposition them a little better. Make sure that when you put them back on their mouth is covering as much of your areola as possible.

If you are still having problems then you perhaps need to try this.


10. Tongue-tie

Occasionally babies are born with a tongue tie which can make breastfeeding a problem as the strip that joins the tongue and the floor of the mouth is to short.

This is a common breastfeeding problem so don’t get too worried about it.  Some babies have it and manage to feed perfectly normally.


SOLUTION: This can easily be treated but your first port of call should be to contact your doctor to confirm that this is actually the case.


Final thoughts on the above 10 common breastfeeding problems

The great thing about breastfeeding is that the more you do it the more you get used to it and so does your baby.

With each baby that you have you gain more experience and can spot the signs if there are any breastfeeding problems very early on.

Most people have hiccups along the way when it comes to breatfeeding, thankfully all of the above problems can be easily resolved without too much fuss.

Happy breastfeeding!


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